Kula A Community Yoga Studio

 

The Meaning of Kula

by Kula Yoga Teacher Randy Boyd

 

Kula the name of our yoga studio is a Sanskrit word that means community .The concept of Kula comes from another Sanskrit term Kula Siddhi. or the idea that all of the diversity of creation in the universe is in relationship and is connected. These connections explain the way that universe keeps growing and expanding.

 

The food chain is an example of how the universe feeds itself and forever expands. An animal eats a plant nurtured by the light of the sun, and another animal eats that animal and perhaps a human eats that animal. This cycle goes on and on. An eco-system would be another example of a Kula. The more diversity there is in an eco-system the healthier that system is.

 

There are all sorts of examples of other Kulas. For instance the body is a Kula that works together to keep us healthy. The Kula of cells band together to make tissues, the tissues make organs and so on and so forth . On the yoga mat we line up the Kula of the body, the different parts up of our body in a way that brings more joy and vitality to our life. The solar system is a Kula with all the individual planets revolving around the sun in relationship. If one of the orbits of the planets changes it effects the orbits of all the other planets

 

Kula as community or as a group of people with similar yearnings of the heart is a way in which we can all grow together. We all come to the yoga matt because we share similar interests and beliefs. Kula is always voluntary and differs from cults in that Kula respects diversity. As in the example of the eco-system, the more diversity in a community the healthier the community is. Kula as community helps us to grow as individuals. We support each other. Kula offers us a way to remember our own greatness and beauty. Many times we rely people in the Kula to remind us of our own greatness when we allow the voices of self doubt to override our hearts. Sometimes the people in our community believe in us more than we belief in ourselves. Kula also can bring us back into alignment when we step out of alignment. Our real friends let us know when we our actions are out of balance, harmful to others, or ourselves

 

In classical yoga, gurus come in the form of saffron clothed enlightened beings. They have enlightenment and you don’t. There is the notion that they are more advanced spiritual beings. Students come to them to get enlightened.

 

In the Tantric school of yoga all beings are unique individual expressions of universal spirit. We do yoga not to gain enlightenment but to remember our true nature which is freedom, joy, and absolute goodness. We do not come here to get it right as punishment for past Karma we come here to experience life fully. Thus in the Tantric tradition there is much emphasis on Kula. In fact in this tradition, Kula or the community is the Guru, because in community we share, grow, and learn. When we unite our diverse unique individual expressions of beauty and spirit through community the expression of beauty and spirit is exponentially increased .It’s like a band of musicians who feed off the energy of the crowd. The music is enhanced by the collective of the group.

 

My teacher Todd Norian gave a simple and forgive the pun “Sweet “ teaching about Kula which I will share with you .Bees live in a hive which is a Kula . Bees gather pollen like we gather experience. The bees go back to the hive, swallow the pollen and mix it with their enzymes. They in effect digest their experience, where it becomes nectar and then they throw it up. Only when they throw it up and share it with the Hive does it become honey. Any bee that does not throw up its nectar dies. This is why secrets kill us. Anytime we keep secrets a part of our spirit looses its ability to expand. The teaching is not meant to suggest we share everything all the time but we need to share when appropriate. Our own expression of spirit is dimmed when we do not share. We have to share our experience to taste the sweetness of life and to make our Kula grow into a vibrant healthy community.

 

There are 3 examples of ways we interact within the Kula. We can choose to isolate ourselves from community. There is nothing wrong with this, we have free choice but often we miss out on the sweetness of sharing and the bigger energy of the group. The second way to interact is to give all in service. Some people give everything they have to the community. They say yes to everything. They often do so much for others they forget about their needs. The result is they expend so much energy giving, that little is left for themselves. They can deplete their own energy so much that they loose their ability to gather pollen for the community. The third way is when an individual participates in the Kula giving the best they have to offer and reaping the benefits of the shared experience while maintaining there own personal space and attuning to their own needs in a balanced way. This is yoga , balanced action in every realm of life .

 

We at Kula Yoga in the spirit of honoring diversity offer a wide variety of yoga styles. Each teacher offers the best of their heart in service to the Kula. As students we invite you to be part of our Kula . It is only through your studentship that we as teachers can grow. It is through that relationship of students and teachers that we grow as a yoga community.

 

This essay was inspired by teachings from Todd Norian, Anusara Yoga Teacher (www.deeppeaceyoga.com) and Douglas Brooks, Tantric Scholar University of Rochester (www.rajanaka.com)